What is it with government and dodgy regressions?

I have caught the Australian government producing dodgy regressions before; here and here. I’ve caught the Australian misinterpreting good regressions before too.

Then there is the Tobacco PIR analysis.

It is contained in Appendix A to the PIR.

So first things first. What does the analysis report?

To measure the effect of the packaging changes on smoking prevalence, I adopt a widely-used approach in policy analysis often referred to as “before-after” regression analysis. My analysis relates an individual’s decision to smoke to a set of explanatory variables, including sociodemographic factors and controls for tobacco control policies (including the policies governing plain packaging and enlarged graphic health warnings) that are widely believed to influence individuals’ decisions to smoke. There are two important features of this analysis. First, it disentangles the effects of multiple factors that may simultaneously be influencing the observed outcome. Second, it identifies the effect of the packaging changes by comparing smoking behavior before the policy to smoking behavior after.

So far, so good.

The analysis makes use of Roy Morgan data and shows a time trend.

PIR 2

A bit dodgy – the analysis does not test to see if a linear trend is appropriate or not. These things are a function of beginning and end points, but okay.

Then the bottom line result!

PIR 3

Now I understand that not everyone can read an econometrics table – so let’s have the author of the report explain what that means:

Put differently, as shown in Table 1 smoking prevalence in Australia declined from an average of 19.4 percent in the 34 months before the 2012 packaging changes to an average of 17.2 percent in the 34 months after the 2012 packaging changes. Without the 2012 packaging changes, the model predicts that smoking prevalence would have still declined, but only to 17.77 percent. Thus, the packaging changes should be credited with about 0.55 percentage points (or about 25 percent) of the 2.2 percentage points of actual decline over this period.

So the difference between the two scenarios is about half of one percent – mind you nowhere near the 3.4% that Health claim Treasury told them. The joint effect of plain packaging and increased warning signs is half of one percent! Just to remind ourselves what the Public Health Association of Australia said about the policy:

Tobacco plain packaging has been a remarkable success, and has already saved tens of thousands of lives, according to the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

Hyper-bowl as former prime minister Julia Gillard might have said.

Okay – so now let’s look at the problems.

First – We are told that the difference between the two estimates of smoking prevalence is statistically significantly different from zero. But that really tells us how precisely the model has estimated a difference. It doesn’t tell us how good the model is itself. If we have a bad model it doesn’t matter that the estimates are precisely estimated. The analysis is also based on survey data – what is the error rate in the survey? So we have a survey error rate, and a model error rate, and then a half of one percent estimate. The model error rate must be quite high – the pseudo-R square is less than 10% in all estimations of the model. In other words, the model presented cannot explain over 90% of the variation in the data – but we are invited to believe that the model can tell us that a half of one percent decline is due to the policy the government introduced.

Then there is something called Lindley’s paradox. As the number of observations increase so the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis rises even if it shouldn’t be rejected. This analysis has nearly 800,000 observations while the p-values for the policy intervention are between 1% and 3%. The author suggests that those p-values are appropriate the reject the null hypothesis at the 5% level (he is 95% confident that the null can be rejected). But not so fast – not with a regression that has nearly 800,000 observations and (a quick count) 52 variables. SO some quick back of the envelop calculations tell me that a coefficient from a regression with those characteristics needs a p-value of about 0.000117 to be confident of rejecting the null hypothesis.

Then we have the regression itself – the analysis consists of a probit with lots of dummy variables setting out socio-economic conditions. All good – but what is the base-case individual in the model. Who is everyone being compared to? Looking at the PIR – the base case person is an unmarried, male, Australian born, 14 – 17 year old, with a tertiary qualification, employed full time, but with an income less than $6000, and living in Victoria. Kind of tortured really. Strictly speaking the base shouldn’t really effect the overall results, but it is poor practice to have a non-existant entity as the base case – especially when the overall effect is so small. I’m thinking data snooping here.

So, in summary, survey data measured with error thrown into a regression analysis with nearly 800,000 observations and 52 variables and a pseudo-R square of less than 10% produces coefficients with relatively large p-values, and tells us a half of one percent difference is due to the policy?

Dodgy. Dodgy. Dodgy.

As we previously indicated this doesn’t even tell us whether plain packaging worked in isolation.

Then we read:

Because plain packaging is intended to deter smoking initiation, promote cessation, and deter relapse, the benefits of the packaging changes will likely grow over time.

But hang on … the analysis is assuming what it is meant to demonstrate!

I wonder how much the Health Department paid for this?

Update: The more I think about the dodgier I reckon the analysis is. I suspect he hasn’t even done an out of sample forecast.

Update II: It gets worse. The analysis only adjusts for major changes in excise policy – otherwise it does not include price effects in the modelling. This omitted variable bias means that the analysis assumes that cigarettes prices have been constant over the period of analysis.

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55 Responses to What is it with government and dodgy regressions?

  1. Michel Lasouris

    And just who cares two hoots?

  2. .

    In GRETL, which is free, one can test for structural breaks using the Chow test.

    The analysis above has no diagnostics, no specification analysis (let alone time series analysis or intervention analysis to see any actual ‘shock’ effect) , they could have used panel data but they didn’t – it is bunk and they ought to be ashamed of their “research”.

    Heckit modelling for missing data/chop chop? Why probit? There are better techniques available – Heckit or ordered logit.

    They may as well have used “hand made forecasts” which are like the consulting industry’s version of Hepatitis C.

    That’s why you should give a damn. Google anything you are unsure of.

  3. Tim Neilson

    It looks to me as if a trend line that started from 2005 would give a very different result from their one that starts from 2001.
    And also have they adjusted for the effects of the massive excise increase that kicked in about a year after plain packaging?
    I reckon if we did some trend lines starting from 2005 and starting when the excise increase happened we could make it look like plain packaging had zero effect.
    And is this an analysis only of legal tobacco sales?
    Michael Lasouris, if you don’t care about government persistently broadcasting falsehoods that’s your prerogative.

  4. Rabz

    if you don’t care about government persistently broadcasting falsehoods that’s your prerogative.

    Indeed – if they prepared to lie about something like this, what else are they blatantly lying about?

  5. Sinclair Davidson

    If this is what I could produce the same afternoon I read the PIR just imagine what I’m going to find once I spend some time with it.

  6. .

    Only just realised they didn’t even test for causation. God knows what would happen if they tested for random walks.

  7. hzhousewife

    The people preparing this data all went to a tertiary institution for their qualifications no doubt.

  8. I Am the Walras, Equilibrate and Price Take

    Rabz
    #1958213, posted on February 26, 2016 at 4:51 pm
    Indeed – if they prepared to lie about something like this, what else are they

    Everything.

    They lie about everything.

    This is just one draw from an infinite set.

    Shameless grasping at straws to find support for a weak and ineffective policy.

  9. I Am the Walras, Equilibrate and Price Take

    That anyone could think that trend lines beginning at arbitrary points and drawn through observations would prove anything – beyond belief.

    Idiocracy is now.

  10. Some History

    Yep. The long awaited Post Implementation Review was released today. Now wait….don’t tell me…. let me guess. Plain packaging was found to be a resounding, extraordinary, incredible, magnificent success? Am I right?

    It’s standard social engineering procedure. The jackasses of Tobacco Control (you know who they are) agitated and pestered for “plain packaging” (a recommendation of the WHO FCTC). That there was no basis for such a venture is not important. The political class has been in cahoots with the Public Health “aristocracy” for the last few decades. The payoff for government is extortionate taxes on tobacco. The role of government is to appease the foot-stomping, “I’m-going-to-hold-my-breath-until-I-turn-blue” tantrums of the Tobacco Control unintelligentsia short of prohibiting the sale of tobacco. In return the government will get the full hysterical support of the prohibitionists for ever-increasing, baseless taxes on tobacco.

    The jackasses of Tobacco Control squealed and screeched for the measure. Government was accommodating, committing itself to the measure. And there are governments of other nations poised to adopt the same measure. Do we think that “evidence” produced by government committed to the measure would show up the moralizing zealots as jackasses, government appeasing the zealot jackasses as jackasses, and other governments poised to follow suit as jackasses, too. Absolutely not. That’s intolerable. The “evidence” will always show that the moralizing nut case prohibitionists are inspiring pioneers… trail blazers, government that appeased the prohibitionist as having “profound foresight”, and other governments enthusiastic to go the same way as “doing the right thing”.

    That’s the template of the last few decades. Every Tobacco Control measure has been a comprehensive, beyond-critique, the-science-is-settled “success”. The zealots sing the praises of accommodating politicians and already onto the next nitwit “proposal”. The politicians toss the zealots a few hundred million per annum while contemplating the billions more than they can extort from smokers through baseless hikes in taxation. It can well be described as a racket.

    Interesting is that these sorts of “successes” are usually released with great fanfare where the zealots and politicians fawn over each other before the media spotlight with “you’re great”, “no, you’re great”, “no, you’re great”. But not this time. The PIR has been slipped into the works as quietly as possible. Suspicion: It’s loaded with agenda-driven crap. Give it a few weeks and the Tobacco Control spin merchants will be writing articles highlighting how they had weathered the storm…. the attack by [evil] Big Tobacco only to be vindicated by the PIR, to be shown as the super-humans that they are. The Public Health network of dismembered body-organ and disease groups – e.g., heart foundation, lung association, cancer society – will update their websites referring to the definitive review that shows that PP is another stupendous victory for “righteous” Public Health. Job done. There’ll be essentially no questioning and onto the next deranged anti-tobacco whim of the Public Health “aristocrats”.

    The sheer repetition and ease of the con job is sickening.

  11. Gab

    And just who cares two hoots?

    Sinclair does this sort of stuff for fun. His eyes emit rays of happiness when pouring over numbers and doing regression analysis, rubs his hands together with glee. He’s a bit geeky like that.

  12. Some History

    If this is what I could produce the same afternoon I read the PIR just imagine what I’m going to find once I spend some time with it.

    Thanks to you, Sinc, for taking the time. If only others in academia would do the same. Until recently there has been no questioning of anti-tobacco in Australia. For decades the Public Health aristocracy and useful-idiot politicians have been used to smooth sailing on the well-oiled propaganda machine. There is no questioning by the media which has been “trained” to not ask scrutinizing questions lest they be accused (and humiliated) of being “cancer promoters and shills of [evil] Big Tobacco”.

  13. AP

    52 variables? You have to be fucking kidding! That’s the parsimonious solution?

    What do the scatter plots of the residuals look like?

  14. Some History

    From Professor John Brignell’s website, “Number Watch”

    Statistical Bludgeon

    Just as the mediaeval clergy used their own privileged interpretations of the written laws to bludgeon the laity into conformity, so the modern numerical necromancers use their interpretations of numbers to the same end. In both cases the penalty for indiscipline is the threat of pestilence, hell-fire and damnation; while the cost of conformity is a simple but substantial tithe on your income.

    ….Everyone has a story to tell; yet much of the blame is with politicians who are incapable of thinking things through, but you can confidently predict that they will produce the statistics to prove the success of their legislation.
    Journalists are also great traders in junk statistics. A large portion of the modern newspaper is formed by the fillers, small columns of type comprising barely edited press releases from epidemiologists and cod psychologists, usually giving the insignificant results of small ill-controlled studies but with dramaticised headlines.

    …In the popular mind the graph has been elevated to the status of a religious icon. If there is a graph it must be right. Apart from the fact that a graph is vulnerable to the sort of deceptive manipulation that we have labeled chartmanship, its contribution to the argument can be misleading or even completely irrelevant.

    …The statistical bigots are ever watchful for “evidence” to promote their causes. In particular they monitor the numbers so that they can publicise any accidental correlations that go in the “right” direction, while ignoring those that go in the “wrong” one. This activity is at its highest around one of their “coups”; for the march of the zealots must be ever forward, with no reversion.
    Thus there is constant selective mining of “before and after events” relative to the smoking ban, which are celebrated by the establishment media. During the writing of this piece there was childhood asthma in January 2013. Then, even more bizarrely there was premature birth in February.

    ……..In the modern age almost everything is political; not just party-political, but also driven by sometimes covert, extra-parliamentary interest groups.
    Science has come under total political control and so has lost much of its raison d’être, which is human curiosity. In common parlance the very word “science” has changed its meaning.

    ….The EU, USA, Britain and Australia all have left-leaning, authoritarian governments and bureaucracies, who believe it is their right and duty to exercise control over every detail of their victims’ lives. Powerful monolithic media organisations, such as the BBC and ABC, ruthlessly exercise rigorous censorship and selectivity to magnify the apparent weight of zealot causes favoured by the contemporary establishment. Scientific matters are discussed in terms of political ideology rather than the natural language of science, which is predominantly mathematics.

    The looseness of trendy modern statistical procedures provides a ready response to political requirements. Results can be virtually manufactured to order. These are then used, with the cooperation of the establishment media, to bludgeon the population into obedience.

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/statistical_bludgeon.htm

  15. AP

    What happened in Jan 2014? Excise rise? That’s when the inflection point is.

  16. Robk

    When did those e -cigarettes become more common? Other sources of nicotine such as patches and gum would have to be monitored as displacement regular fags/durries. Chop chop is the obvious upset to their plan and cigars and pipes seem to be a steady source for the addicted.

  17. Infidel Tiger

    And just who cares two hoots?

    We do. We are freedom extremists.

    If you don’t like it, take a vacation involving sex and travel.

  18. Bruce of Newcastle

    The problem with the regression analysis is that all regressions are actually multiple regressions. Researchers try to design their experiments so that only one statistically significant variable is explored. The trouble with this is ‘unknown unknowns’. Which are other unexplored statistically significant variables which may be the actual reason for the observed behaviour of the object.

    That is what the ‘omitted variable bias‘ is about. If there is a variable that you have neglected in your analysis it is possible, and even likely, that the variance is actually due to the omitted variable not the variable you are looking at. That is most obvious when the two variables covary – in other words both cause the data to move in the same direction.

    That is the problem here.

    It is an assumption that PPL caused the fall in measured cigarette consumption. There are two omitted variable bias problems with this assumption. The first of these is the fall in measured consumption. That is fallacious because the data collected is only the official legal cigarette consumption. There is no data on illicit smuggled cigarette consumption. So it is quite possible that the reduction in observed cigarette consumption is actually due to a shift from legal to illegal cigarettes.

    Then the second omitted variable is the actual illegal cigarette consumption statistics. These are unknown. So not only the consumption may not have actually fallen but it may have risen…if illegal cigarette consumption rose more than legal cigarette consumption fell.

    Without data it is impossible to know the breakdown between these three variables. But as I pointed out in the related thread there is a lot of evidence that illegal cigarette consumption has massively increased. This may be due to PPL making it easier to sell illegal cigarettes from ‘below the counter’ and/or due to the excise increases that have occurred at roughly the same time. Which adds a fourth variable to the MLR analysis.

    Since all four variables are covariant – ie they all cause a reduction in measured legal cigarette consumption I think it is almost certain that the reported reduction is actually due to a shift to illegal consumption driven by the easier hiding of illegal sales (since cigarettes must be hidden in cupboards) and sale of smuggled cigarettes on the street. To falsify this hypothesis it would be necessary to collect accurate data on the black market, which so far the government has been disinclined to do.

    Which is a big ‘tell’.

  19. Ragu

    cigars and pipes seem to be a steady source for the addicted.

    Cigars are nudging $600 a box. Single sticks of a Churchill, for instance, are over $50

    ——-

    I would like to see the change in sales for marlboro vs the cheap brands

  20. Tel

    Agree with Tim Neilson, the turning point is around 2005 in that data.

    Are the raw numbers downloadable?

  21. AP

    Yep, I eyeballed it. 12.5% excise rise in Dec 2013. There is another inflection point around 2005/2006. Be interested to know if there was an excise change then too. There are effectively 3 data series here, up to 2005/06, then through to 2014/ then 2014 onwards. Everything else is “noise” in the data.

    Bruce you’re probably right about illegal cigs, but the biggest changes would be at the increases in excise which incentivise illegal importers/sellers with higher profit margins.

  22. Baldrick

    Increased excise and vaping have done more to reduce cigarette consumption than anything plain packaging could ever hope to achieve.

  23. Some History

    Are the raw numbers downloadable?

    Blasphemy!!! Blasphemy!!!!!

  24. Some History

    PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA
    MEDIA RELEASE

    Tobacco plain packaging a winner – saving lives

    PHAA Tobacco spokesperson Professor Mike Daube, who chaired the Australian Government’s Expert Committee that recommended plain packaging said, “This is great news for everyone except Big Tobacco. It shows clearly that the legislation is more than meeting its objectives. We know that smoking in adults and children and cigarette sales are declining, but it is especially rewarding that this meticulous independent analysis attributes part of that decline to plain packaging alone, even within its first three years”.
    “Even leaving aside the rest of the decline, and impacts on children, plain packaging alone has been responsible for tens of thousands of adults quitting since its introduction in late 2012. This means that in its first three years plain packaging has already saved the lives of many thousand Australians. That’s a stunning outcome, especially as there is so much more to come,”

    There’s Mike Drab, a prohibitionist and prominent agitator for PP, singing the praises of the “review” – “Tobacco plain packaging a winner”. This is the singular “auto pilot” mode for activists. All of their activities are always a “winner”.

    Drab has been with the current anti-tobacco crusade from its very early days way back in the late 1960s. In 1971 he was the first director of the antismoking organization “Action on Smoking & Health” in the UK. So in his early-20s, Drab was already convinced that he had his finger on the pulse of the universe, intent on “fixing up” society. If anything, his “god complex” has only become more prominent in the years since. He is a typical moralizing, narcissistic, prohibitionist tosser. He’s also anti-alcohol and dietary policeman.

    It’s been very difficult to get the academic background on this finger-wagging fascist. But this recent publication notes his qualifications as BA (Hons) – not sure in what – and an honorary Doctor of Science:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/resp.12621/full

    Daube….. honorary Doctor of Science??!? For heaven’s sake.

  25. braddles

    Speaking of ‘chartmanship’, starting the y-axis at 15%, for no good reason, greatly exaggerates the apparent decline, and would have Brignell fuming.

  26. .

    We could go on and on…Wald tests? AIC? BIC? Nested models? Mallory’s C plot…etc etc etc…

  27. Some History

    This might be a good time to consider the political power and money that backs tobacco prohibition. The Daubes, Chapmans, and Wakefields are just the Australian chapter of what is an entrenched global network headquartered at the UN agency, the World Health Organization.

    Somewhere between the early-80s and the last decade antismoking has been manufactured into a societal ideal. The legislature and societies have been manipulated to an extreme – prohibition – that only a few decades ago was viewed as repugnant. Critical insight has been lost on a mass scale. From tiny beginnings in the 1970s, antismoking is now a genuinely global[ist] endeavour. Most countries are signed up to the [prohibitionist] WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The World Bank, the EU and the OECD, along with mega-wealth “philanthropy” (e.g., Bloomberg), fully support the WHO FCTC. It’s a closed propaganda loop that’s overthrowing the sovereignty of individual nations.

    Some might wonder why almost every nation on earth signed/ratified the WHO FCTC in the early-2000s. Pressure.
    World Bank Group President Jim Kim has highlighted tobacco control as an important issue in recent speeches, and in his comment on The Lancet Commission on Investing in Health.
    Advocacy on tobacco control will continue to be a pillar of the Bank’s public health work. As the Bank formulates its new global practice on health, nutrition and population, effective July 2014, we hope to scale up our efforts further, working with partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

    http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/health/brief/tobacco
    Have you got that? The World Bank, another UN agency, does “public health work”, partnering with mega-wealth “philanthropy”.

    The World Bank has been a global leader on tobacco control.
    •Since 1991 the World Bank’s policy has been not to lend, invest in, or guarantee investments or loans for tobacco production, processing, or marketing.
    •A 1999 Bank report, Curbing the Epidemic: Governments and the Economics of Tobacco Control, contributed to adoption of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control.
    •The Bank’s Economics of Tobacco Toolkit helps researchers analyze the economics of tobacco policies in their respective countries.
    •In Russia, the Bank engaged the government in policy dialogue on tobacco control through a report — Dying Too Young in the Russian Federation — which contributed to increases in tobacco and alcohol taxes.
    •The Bank’s strategy for health, nutrition and population identifies tobacco control as one of the key interventions for health outcomes and tobacco tax increases as a cost-effective measure for tobacco control.
    •The Bank is an active observer of WHO’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) (pdf).

    The Bank is actively supporting countries to halt and reverse tobacco use.
    •In partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Health, Nutrition and Population Unit of the Human Development Network has launched an initiative to support country tobacco control efforts, with a focus on increasing taxes.
    •During 2012 and 2013, the Bank successfully provided technical assistance on tobacco taxation to The Philippines (pdf) and The Gambia, resulting in tobacco tax reforms in both countries.
    •In 2013 the Bank launched the technical dialogue and a study in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
    •The Bank partners with WHO FCTC’s (pdf) Secretariat missions to assess implementation progress and issues related to Articles 6 (taxation), 15 (illicit trade), recent missions included: Burundi, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
    •The Bank collaborates with multiple in country and global partners, including academia and civil society to ensure coordination at country level on tobacco control and tobacco tax policies.

    http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/health/brief/world-bank-and-tobacco-control-the-facts

  28. sdfc

    Yeah, how is smoking different to going to the casino?

    Apart from the stakes being higher?

  29. Some History

    The influence of mega-wealth “philanthropy” partnering with unelected, unaccountable organizations towards tobacco prohibition:

    Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg donate $500,000,000 to anti-tobacco.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92864125
    http://blogsofbainbridge.typepad.com/africa/2010/02/how-bill-gates-got-involved-in-tobacco-control.html

  30. Some History

    Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use
    http://www.tobaccocontrolgrants.org/Pages/44/About-the-Bloomberg-Initiative

    Tobacco kills more than 14,000 people every day. Unless urgent action is taken, tobacco will kill 8 million people a year by 2030, 80 percent of them in developing countries.
    In 2006, Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City, launched a $125 million global initiative to reduce tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries. The Initiative was extended with a new $250 million commitment in 2008. Other funders have also made contributions to the Initiative.

    The four major objectives of the Bloomberg Initiative are:
    1. To refine and optimize tobacco control programs to help smokers stop using tobacco and to prevent children from starting.

    2. To support public sector efforts to pass and enforce key laws and implement effective policies, including taxing cigarettes, preventing smuggling, altering the image of tobacco and protecting workers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

    3. To support advocates’ efforts to educate communities about the harms of tobacco and to enhance tobacco control activities that work towards a tobacco-free world.

    4. To develop a rigorous system to monitor the status of global tobacco use.

    The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use is implemented though five partner organizations: the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the World Health Organization, and the World Lung Foundation.

    Countries are given “grants” to implement the objectives of Tobacco Control.

  31. Some History

    Bloomberg has given a bucket load of money to a Muslim organization to get it to declare smoking as “haram”. And Bloomberg believes that all of his “public health” work will get him straight into heaven.

    “Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, said it’s his work for more gun control — along with his anti-smoking and healthy eating campaigns — that have won him God’s favor and a sure spot behind the Pearly Gates.

    His exact words, made in context of discussing his smoking cessation and anti-obesity pushes, as well as his concerted crackdowns on private gun ownership, to the New York Times were: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
    Washington Post 2014

    Indonesian Clerics Join Smoking Fatwa Row – 2010

    “A growing debate in the religious arena over smoking intensified on Sunday, with senior officials from the country’s largest Muslim organization and its top council of clerics deriding a recent fatwa issued against the habit.

    Officials from Nahdlatul Ulama and the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) both took issue with Muhammadiyah, the nation’s second-largest Muslim organization, issuing the religious edict last week, saying it went too far. Both organizations maintained their positions that smoking cigarettes was not haram, or forbidden in Islam.

    “It’s not that easy declaring something as haram. There are many considerations that should be taken into account,” Masdar F Mas’udi, an NU deputy chairman, told the Jakarta Globe. “Nahdlatul Ulama still considers smoking as makruh [undesirable], and we have no plan to change that in the near future.

    Over the weekend, however, Muhammadiyah found itself on the defensive, denying that the fatwa was related to a grant it received from a US-based antitobacco organization. The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, funded by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, lists a November 2009 grant to Muhammadiyah worth $393,234 on its Web site.
    Among the grant’s stated purposes is “the issuance and dissemination of religious advice on the dangers of tobacco use.”
    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/archive/indonesian-clerics-join-smoking-fatwa-row/

    “The Bloomberg Initiative says on its website, http: //www.tobaccocontrolgrants.org, its program with Muhammadiyah aims “to mobilize public support towards obtaining religious policy on tobacco control and to support FCTC [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control] accession”.

    Muhammadiyah issued an edict banning its followers from smoking on Wednesday, basing its argument on the Koran, which bans Muslims from taking their own lives. It also urged the government and the House of Representatives to ratify the FCTC.

    Fattah, however, maintained that the council did not receive funding to issue the edict.

    “Muhammadiyah is committed to creating a clean environment and a healthy society. We have a program for that and Bloomberg knew of this program and they offered [to fund it],” he told The Jakarta Post.
    http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/03/13/edict-not-funded-nyc-mayor-muhammadiyah.html

  32. Some History

    Bloomberg and Turkey

    On a sweltering Saturday in June in Istanbul’s old city, Michael R. Bloomberg, power-dressed in a dark blue suit, monogrammed white shirt and cuff links, sat down to a late-morning breakfast with local antismoking activists on a rooftop overlooking the glittering Sea of Marmara.

    The group, which included Turkish doctors and public health officials, had gathered to celebrate the surprising success of a campaign to persuade Turks, notorious for their love of tobacco, to smoke fewer cigarettes. It was a campaign formulated and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable foundation of Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.

    Mr. Bloomberg was in an expansive mood, holding forth on Istanbul’s antiquities and dropping the names of Turkish big shots he has known: Muhtar Kent, the chief executive of Coca-Cola, and Ahmet Ertegun, the late rock ‘n’ roll magnate. But what Mr. Bloomberg really wanted to talk about was the success of his antismoking program in Turkey, an effort that has drawn the passionate support of his newest Turkish pal, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former prime minister and the country’s just-elected president.

    “Turkey is a great example, and it can be translated to other countries,” Mr. Bloomberg told his breakfast companions.

    And who knows, he joked, his philanthropy may even win him a Nobel Prize.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/business/international/michael-bloombergs-harder-sell.html?_r=1

  33. Some History

    Bloomberg and India

    How former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to get India to stop smoking
    http://scroll.in/article/how-former-new-york-mayor-mike-bloomberg-plans-to-get-the-world-to-stop-smoking/?id=675907

  34. Some History

    Bill Gates & China

    Baidu CEO and Bill Gates Take On Smoking

    BEIJING—In the latest sign of philanthropy’s spread among China’s wealthy, Baidu Inc.’s Robin Li joined Bill Gates Saturday to announce a campaign to combat smoking in China……..

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304259304576379222269824188

  35. Some History

    This is what the good folk of Cameroon are being fed:
    http://blogs.bmj.com/tc/2013/07/04/cameroon-cigarettes-are-eating-your-baby-alive-campaign-launched/

    Cigarettes are eating your baby alive
    Cigarettes are eating you and your kids alive
    http://67.199.72.89/ammr/english/ad_eatingbaby.html

    The campaign concept was rated as effective by African audiences in rigorous testing of tobacco control messaging conducted by World Lung Foundation in 2012. It was originally developed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and has been used effectively in Bangladesh, India, Mexico, Russia, and Vietnam, among other countries.

    This mass media campaign was carried out with the technical and financial support of the Africa Tobacco Control Consortium (ATCC), Africa Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) and the Framework Convention Alliance. Additional funding was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

  36. Some History

    Here’s Turkey extending smoking bans to the outdoors.
    http://www.dailysabah.com/nation/2014/07/18/smoking-ban-to-be-extended-to-outdoors

    This statement really stuck out:
    Turkey’s efforts to combat widespread smoking habits were praised in a health report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report noted that from 2000 to 2012, the country has achieved significant progress in reducing the number of smokers.

    Again we have an unelected internationalist organization meddling in sovereign affairs. Worse is that this is an economic cooperation organization that has extended its reach to “public health” (like the World Bank).

  37. Some History

    More on the OECD.

    The OECD has a “better life” index:
    http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/

    The OECD’s Better Life Initiative, launched in May 2011 following a decade of work on this issue, is a first attempt to bring together internationally comparable measures of well being in line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress also known as the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission. The recommendations made by this Commission sought to address concerns that standard macroeconomic statistics like GDP failed to give a true account of people’s current and future well-being. The OECD Better Life Initiative includes two main elements: “Your Better Life Index” and “How’s Life?”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OECD_Better_Life_Index

    “Internationally comparable measures of well-being”??? “Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress”???

  38. Some History

    So there’s some of the [disturbing] influence of the WHO, the World Bank, mega-wealth “philanthropies” in messing with the public policy of individual countries. They’re all antismoking. They all sing from the same hymn sheet. We can add to these the OECD and the “Commission” mentioned above.

    A whole echelon of power (political, economic) has been built through a plethora of interconnected organizations that believe they know how every country should be operating, constantly comparing them on superficial measures (usually physicalist). These organizations are attempting to bring uniformity to the world where countries are just clones of each other and are easier to control [by an unelected, self-installed elite].

    Government health and economic ministers and bureaucrats attend [usually 5-star] Conferences run by the globalists and are quickly brought into line. These ministers and bureaucrats then return to their respective countries to implement the globalist agenda. They are really no longer serving the constituents that elected them or the countries they supposedly represent. Who knows what sort of economic rewards/punishments are used to compel individual countries to push particular agenda (e.g., antismoking) at the local level.

  39. I wonder how much the Health Department paid for this?

    It cost $3 million and there was no competitive tender. The work was undertaken by Dr Melanie Wakefield of Cancer Council Victoria. The Health Department concedes she is known to favour plain packaging.

    [I have contacted David. This is a separate analysis to the $3 million Wakefield survey. David has been magnificent in chasing that down in Estimates as we have been reporting here at the Cat. Sinc]

  40. Rabz

    It cost $3 million and there was no competitive tender.

    My knowledge of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines may be somewhat “dodgy” but work for that amount should at least have been selectively tendered via a pre-existing panel, or if not, have definitely gone to an open tender.

    Disgraceful. They’re no longer even bothering to hide their contempt for the ignorant masses.

  41. Mark from Melbourne

    Blasphemy!!! Blasphemy!!!!!

    You mean “Infamy, Infamy“, surely?

  42. Some History

    The Health Department concedes she is known to favour plain packaging.

    “Favour” is putting it mildly. Mel is a prohibitionist that has aggressively pushed for PP.

    David, for some information on Wakefield, see my comments here:
    http://catallaxyfiles.com/2016/02/21/we-paid-3-million-for-what/

  43. Rabz

    The other wonderful thing about this preposterous propaganda is that the existence and inevitably increased usage of “Chop-Chop” is either ignored or condescendingly dismissed as being of no relevance.

    Someone posted the brief results of a google search of hits for “illegal tobacco seizures in Australia” and the results were eye-opening, to say the least – and those busts are what these corrupt, inveterate liars are actually admitting to.

    Anyone who thinks that the massive increases in sin taxes on legal tobacco aren’t driving the lower SES users to seek out illicit substitutes such as chop-chop is either brain damaged, illiterate, innumerate, a public servant, a so-called journalist or a politican. Or even worse, some bizarre combination of the aforementioned.

  44. sdfc

    So if higher taxes aren’t responsible for the falling smoking rate, what is?

  45. Rabz

    A burgeoning market (and hugely increased demand) for chop-chop, perhaps?

  46. Some History

    I wonder how much the Health Department paid for this?
    It cost $3 million and there was no competitive tender. The work was undertaken by Dr Melanie Wakefield of Cancer Council Victoria. The Health Department concedes she is known to favour plain packaging.

    Could someone set me straight.

    For the PIR,

    4 The Consultation Process
    The Department engaged an external consultant, Siggins Miller Consultants Pty Ltd 38.(Siggins Miller), to consult with stakeholders and seek their views on the impact of the tobacco plain packaging measure (consultation process). The full results of the consultations are contained in the Stakeholder Consultation Report (Appendix B). The Consultation Report was used to inform the assessment of the impact of the measure on stakeholders and its effectiveness and efficiency in meeting its objectives. All stakeholder’s views and submissions were considered when preparing this PIR. …..

    To ascertain what contribution, if any, the 2012 packaging changes made to these declines, the Department engaged Dr Tasneem Chipty of Analysis Group, Inc.,108F109 to analyse the Roy Morgan data covering the period from 1 January 2001 to 30 September 2015 to see if a contribution from plain packaging could be detected at this early stage.
    Both of the 2012 packaging changes are designed to reduce smoking levels and to 104.work in concert with each other. Indeed, one of the aims of plain packaging is to make graphic health warnings more effective. As noted by Dr Chipty, due to the timing of the 2012 packaging changes it is not possible to identify separately the effects of tobacco plain packaging and enlarged and updated graphic health warnings on smoking prevalence without making restrictive assumptions. The analysis undertaken was, however, able to estimate the impact of both measures working in concert from other aspects of Australia’s comprehensive approach to tobacco control, such as excise increases.

    Are these engagements part of that $3million dollar (Wakefield, Cancer Council) outlay or do they constitute a separate “investigation” for the PIR that involves a separate, additional government outlay. If so what was the amount of the outlay for the PIR?

  47. Some History

    A burgeoning market (and hugely increased demand) for chop-chop, perhaps?

    The following is all that the PIR has to say about illicit tobacco. It predictably dismisses that it’s an issue at all, particularly pertaining to PP.

    59. Some stakeholders also identified what they believed to be other impacts of the tobacco plain packaging measure (for example, including consumers allegedly switching to cheaper brands or alleged increases in illicit tobacco use).

    6.3 Other Potential Impacts
    Other potential impacts of the tobacco plain packaging measure were also identified 161.and discussed in the Analysis of Costs & Benefits.
    For example, the Analysis of Costs & Benefits considers the potential impact of the 162.tobacco plain packaging measure on changes in the illicit tobacco market in Australia. Stakeholders from the tobacco industry reported that they believed that illicit tobacco use had increased in Australia following the implementation of the tobacco plain packaging measure and due to successive ad hoc excise increases. These stakeholders relied on a series of reports commissioned by the three major tobacco companies in Australia, which estimated the size of the Australian illicit tobacco market from 2011 through to 2014. However, the Analysis of Costs & Benefits notes that these reports could not be relied upon due to the express wishes and disclaimers issued by the reports’ authors. It also notes criticisms of these reports for flaws in their sampling and methodologies, as well as for inconsistencies in methodologies, sampling timeframes and protocols over the report series.
    The Analysis also refers to a number of peer-reviewed studies that have assessed the 163.potential changes in the Australian illicit tobacco market since the implementation of the tobacco plain packaging measure.182F183 These studies found no change in smokers’ reported use of unbranded illicit tobacco, no evidence of increases in use of contraband cigarettes, low levels of use of cigarettes likely to be contraband, and no increase in purchases of tobacco from informal sellers.183F184 The Analysis of Costs & Benefits considered that it was most likely that the impact of the tobacco plain packaging measure on changes in the illicit tobacco market in Australia has not been substantive, if there has been any impact at all.
    (p.52)

  48. 2dogs

    a pseudo-R square of less than 10%

    Regressions with really low R-square values like this are highly prone to Simpson’s paradox.

    Either find the missing explanatory variables, or throw the whole thing out.

  49. None

    After reading Sinc’s piece I, too, cannot help but think ‘DODGY BROS INC’.’

    Given David L.’s subsequent comment (which should be bumped up and added to the main article as an addendum in BIG LETTERS) I am more than convinced this is dodgy as.

    It cost $3 million and there was no competitive tender. The work was undertaken by Dr Melanie Wakefield of Cancer Council Victoria. The Health Department concedes she is known to favour plain packaging.

    Cancer Councils are no more than lobby groups. To throw away $3m of our money without tender to a lobby group to generate such an appalling piece of work demands answers.

    I have also long held the view that there are few if any public servants capable of either conducting methodologically rigorous analysis or able to evaluate or interpret it. This episode just further entrenches my view.

    That the public service is largely populated by leftist morons who think there job is to re-engineer the world according to their moronic leftist aganda is a given.

  50. Some History

    A very recent and rare study from Public Health that flies in the face of “plain packaging”. It’s rare in that it, at least, questions the ramifications of a Public Health “intervention”.

    Warning Labels With Graphic Images Don’t Deter Smokers, May Encourage Reactionary Smoking
    According to the researchers, the graphic labels are perceived by many as a threat to their choices, freedom, or autonomy.
    “What we found is that most people don’t like these warning labels, whether they are smokers or nonsmokers,” said communications doctoral student Nicole LaVoie, lead researcher of the study, in a statement. “It makes them angry, it makes them express negative thoughts about the packaging, that they’re being manipulated. Ultimately, it also makes them think that the source — the government in this case, mandating these labels — is overly domineering, is being too much in their business.”
    The biggest problem is that the strongest response of this kind came from participants who measured high in psychological reactance; a trait that makes someone more prone to negative and resistant thoughts when they believe they’re being told what to do. Smokers, unfortunately, tend to be somewhat higher in this trait. Professor Brian Quick, a co-author of the paper, said that because of this, a boomerang effect can occur.
    “If these individuals see things as freedom threats, they are going to be more attracted to perform the threatened behavior,” he said.

    http://www.medicaldaily.com/warning-labels-cigarette-box-tobacco-companies-374918

    Interestingly, both smokers and nonsmokers didn’t like the warning labels. In this short media release can also be seen the serious problem with Public Health with which the authors are affiliated. The authors view “threat to freedom” as only a perception, whereas there’s plenty of evidence that the tobacco prohibitionism that is rife in Public Health is a threat to individual freedom. There’s a raft of coercive and punitive measures, referred to as “help” in Public Health, including denormaliztion/stigmatization and extortionate taxes, intended to force smokers into quitting. The membership of Public Health obviously doesn’t understand what individual freedom refers to in a relatively free society. Nor do they comprehend the perils of prohibitionism in which they are engaged.

    The smokers in the study are stating that they’ve had enough of the coercion, in this instance in their reaction to “warning labels” on cigarette packs. They don’t want to be bullied into quitting when they don’t want to quit, and their “negative reactance” to overbearing authoritarianism is not “unfortunate” but a positive trait. Understandably, the Public Health-aligned authors downplay the authoritarianism, viewing the warning labels as a well-intentioned measure that didn’t quite have the intended consequences.

    Although the lesson from the study is a simple one, Public Healthers are incapable of learning it because they are committed to prohibition. The authors conclude:
    LaVoie adds that graphic warning labels may actually be doing harm to the group that needs help if they’re high in psychological reactance and battling an addiction to smoking.
    “We always measure and look at the intended effects, like encouraging people to quit smoking, but sometimes we don’t remember to look at what else these messages are doing that we’re not thinking about, like causing reactance,” LaVoie said. “Our goal is to think about wat [sic] we can do, what messages we can construct, that are effective for the whole, but also target these groups that are the most in need of help.”

    The authors propose more “help” [to quit] when the message from the study is that there are smokers who don’t subscribe to Public Health’s depiction of them as “addicts” [another Public Health concoction that’s a throwback to 1800s America] and in great need of help. The smokers are demonstrating that they don’t want any more Public Health “help”.

  51. Some History

    Warning Labels With Graphic Images Don’t Deter Smokers…

    And we haven’t even considered that most, if not all, “warning labels” are not statements of fact but are inflammatory fiction, e.g., “smoking kills”.

    The bulk of the evidence against smoking is statistical in nature. Even if we accept that the statistical evidence has been reasonably acquired and free of errors and confounders – which it’s not, there are very definite rules governing how statistical information is disseminated. These rules are routinely violated, mangled, abused, butchered by antismoking activists. Moralizing zealots…. prohibitionists… use a particular, exaggerated, highly-inflammatory language, e.g., “kill”, “death”, “poison”, “toxic”. It targets an emotional reaction.

    Honestly depicting statistical information doesn’t have sufficient “terrorizing” value for zealots.

    I can point you to a document (see Godber Blueprint) that instructs activists not to use statistical information, but to use such terms as “kill” which go far beyond the implications of the underlying data:

    Working Papers in Support of the 8th World Conference on Tobacco or Health: Building a Tobacco-Free World
    March 30 – April 3, 1992

    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    (excerpts)
    Use strong direct wording such as
    Smoking kills
    Smoking is addictive
    Smoking causes lung cancer
    Smoking causes heart disease
    Smoking damages your lungs
    Smoking harms the fetus
    Smoking hurts your children

    Don’t use statements that condone any
    form of smoking, imply only a chance
    of contracting disease, or attribute the
    statement to a third party . Don’t use :
    “Don’t smoke too much for health’s sake . ”
    “Smoking may cause……
    “According to the government . . . . .”

    (p.14)
    Consider skull and crossbones or other
    strong visual displays .

    (p.15)

    Again, we’re not dealing with facts here. It’s activism. It’s the standard deterioration into the inflammatory vocabulary of moralizing zealotry. It’s the production of [baseless] generalized slogans for terrorizing effect.

  52. Punchline

    So it seems that packaging with pictures of bloody lungs etc do not deter smokers from sales? If so, the rule of theumb in marketing has been buried extrmely deeply. (Roughly 50% of all spend is waste, we just can never know which 50%).
    Perversely, the intrusion of government on the liberty of tobacco company shareholders in their pursuit of branding and sales has been a huge benefit. That is, 100% of the branding bucks were wasted!
    Hard to imagine. Yet here is proof.

  53. .

    sdfc
    #1958375, posted on February 26, 2016 at 8:42 pm
    Yeah, how is smoking different to going to the casino?

    Apart from the stakes being higher?

    The government herds you into the casino and away from King’s Cross.

  54. Jon B Goode

    Clearly the correct answer is to liberalise any and all drug use. Simply require packaging that adequately represents the product risk. Punchline makes the obvious point: the government has made ciggies more profitable.

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